The 'principle of haiga' 

On 'haiga' . . . there has already been a plethora of information ie; origin, history, viewpoints/opinions, technique, and so forth written on this subject, not only by Japanese authors, but by Australian, American and European writers as well, and certainly by far more scholarly artisans than myself. Thus, being called upon to write this essay for 'Yellow Moon', I've chosen a more personal way to present to its readers my feelings on the 'haiga' artform.

What I am about to describe has world-wide application, but with varying other regional plant types. However, I reside in a state of the USA called Oregon, wherein its high-desert prairie, grows numerous species of native 'sagebrush', of which the purple variety, has by far, the most pungent bitter-sweet, yet delicate scent. With even the slightest disturbance, (whether it be by a cuddly brush rabbit, or some hiker's boot), the medicinal aroma of sage is aromatically diffused, permeating the nostrils, then pouring into the lungs of whomever treks on these lands.

Local residents are used to the odour of sage (which we also burn like incense for a more direct scent), but whenever an outsider visits, they can't seem to contain their wonderment. In our high-desert, there are fantastic flora and fauna, ranging from Indian paintbrush to Meadow larkspur to pale pink Bitterroot found blooming in the very rockiest areas, not to mention the ancient Juniper trees with their gnarled branches that defy the intense heat of our scorching high-desert sun; plus we have plant-eating sage rats, coyotes and rattlesnakes, herds of elk, deer and prong-horn sheep, somersaulting ravens, etc., but above and beyond all this, wafts that unforgettable scent of purple sage.

Albeit, when looking about, one has trouble identifying exactly where the smell is coming from. It just lingers in the air, pervading the lungs with its therapeutics, and although it's a common experience of everyone, few among us are perceptive enough to immediately picture in our own minds, what we've experienced.  Somewhere out there in the vast desert, lays that fragrant sage twig, totally illusive because the species that cover our desert floor are so plentiful and abundant, yet the munificent influence of just one piece diffuses itself throughout the entire countryside.

. . . and right about now, you're saying to yourself, what in the world does all this have to do with the 'haiga' artform !?

Well, and this is strictly conceptual thought . . . but I compare this little bush's profuse power to the well crafted 'haiga', (both having almost psychic intermediation); the 'haiga' radiating beyond and extending the 'haiku'/written word it accompanies, as if pouring out upon its observer the balm that the purple sage distils.  Just as the sophisticated haiga also instrumentality enters and expands even the most artless spirit, in precisely the same fashion that the sage's aroma unobtrusively enters the nostrils and expands our lungs, whether it be indirectly from the desert floor, or directly in the way of incense.

Eventually, after experiencing this type of 'haiga', one goes on with their life, detaching themselves from what they have seen, that which has given them momentary glee, but they now also bear deep within their souls, this ever so subtle 'principle of haiga', which has implanted itself without their will, and shall slowly develop in the guise of a longing to return and savour yet one 'haiga' after another, reawakening their own poetic and artistic nature time and again.

. . . an'ya, editor of
haigaonline, director of the World Haiku Club beginners

reprinted from Yellow Moon

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